Joe Baer had worked in the forests extensively before he got to UM from eastern Oregon. He had an AAS in forest technology that led him into jobs in trees from Mexico to Canada. He climbed, planted, and felled trees and is a tree climbing instructor and a journeyman sawyer for U.S. Forest Service. But when a favorite boss retired, he knew it was time for a bachelor’s degree that would lead him into more permanent work.
He’s continued to do a lot of forestry work while in school. In fact, Joe says what he appreciates most about his time at the college is that he’s been able to take projects from start to finish, rather than just talk in class about implementing something. Last winter he and classmates Mike Wolfe and Zack Dunphy talked to professor Beth Dodson about starting a student logging crew at Lubrecht Forest. In less than a month they’d worked through the logistics to plan a skyline yarding project. They logged about three acres using an experimental skyline machine the forest owns and sold both their pulp and saw logs to local mills.
They want future students to be able to continue putting plans into action at Lubrecht. “The sustainable timber harvesting methods used generated enough money to pay for the resources we used. Our hope is that the project will continue to self-fund so that its implementation never hinges the approval of outside funds,” Joe says.
Joe also designed road improvements at Bandy Ranch as part of a class taught by Professor Dodson. After receiving a grant from Montana Trout Unlimited to implement the classes’ recommendations to remove a stream ford, install a bridge, and move the road away from the creek, Joe and his classmates are watching their plan put into action. He’s been volunteering his time to log the hillside where the new road will go.
All of Joe’s hard work has paid off – he’ll start working as a forester for the Lolo National Forest after he graduates with his degree in Forestry.